A crucial Senate race is underway in Pennsylvania in the coming midterms: a cognitively impaired stroke victim vs. America’s celebrity Turk. In the following essay David Boyajian examines the unsavory connections between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Turkey.
Double Trouble: Dr. Mehmet Oz and Turkey
by David Boyajian
TV personality Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Oz is the Republican candidate for U.S. senator in Pennsylvania. He could become the first senator to hold dual citizenship, notably that of Turkey and America.
Which country does Oz owe his allegiance to? That’s what journalists and others have justifiably been asking.
Moreover, Ankara has long supported international terrorist organizations such as ISIS.
Oz and Turkish Terrorism
Ahmet S. Yayla was Turkey’s counterterrorism chief from 2010-2013. He acknowledged in 2020 that “Turkey was a central hub for… over 50,000 ISIS foreign fighters, and the main source of ISIS logistical materials [including] IEDs [improvised explosive devices], making Turkey and ISIS practically allies.”
Terrorism expert/State Department adviser Dr. David L. Phillips directs Columbia University’s Peace-building and Human Rights Program. In Turkey: A State Sponsor of Terrorism? (2021), Phillips showed that if a “non-NATO country behaved like Turkey, it would warrant designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
Has Oz ever forthrightly condemned his country’s terrorism, repression, or corruption? Seemingly not.
Does Oz even care that Turkey sponsors ISIS and other terrorist organizations? I find no evidence of that.
Take his January 10, 2022 Washington Examiner op-ed. He expressed his “deep concerns about many of its [Turkey’s] authoritarian domestic policies and harmful foreign policies.”
Which “policies,” exactly? He didn’t say. I asked his campaign for examples. It hasn’t replied.
Moreover, Oz’s alleged “concerns,” as noted by the journalist Benjamin Baird, appeared only after the latter’s stinging, detailed, exposé of the doctor’s “many entanglements with Turkey’s government” (National Review, December 23, 2021).
Americans, said Baird in June, can rightly “question Oz’s loyalty and wonder why he wishes to prolong his allegiance to an oppressive authoritarian state.”
John Fetterman, Oz’s Democratic opponent, has failed to slam Oz on the above points, particularly his rival’s apparent indifference to Ankara’s support of terrorism.
Oz even claims he’s “never been politically involved in Turkey in any capacity” and doesn’t “really have a relationship with the leadership there [in Turkey].” Oh, is that so?
President Erdogan is Oz’s “Leader”
In a Turkish TV interview, the doctor said this after meeting President Erdogan: “I met with our leader in Turkey [emphasis added]. There is the question of how I can help Turkey as a representative [emphasis added].”
Oz served two months in the Turkish army and has extensive real estate holdings in Turkey. They include a $2 million dormitory leased at no cost to the regime’s Education Ministry.
When Oz announced his candidacy in 2021, Turkey’s U.S. Ambassador Hasan Murat Mercan immediately telephoned his congratulations.
The mega-millionaire candidate, incidentally, switched his voting address from his New Jersey mansion to his in-laws’ Pennsylvania home only in 2020.
Oz claims to maintain his Turkish citizenship only because his mother lives in Istanbul and has Alzheimer’s disease. Yet exiled Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt points out that Oz could easily acquire a Turkish “Blue Card,” which confers most citizenship privileges.
In March, Oz stated that as a dual citizen senator he would forego asking for certain American security clearances. Now, though, he swears he’ll drop his Turkish citizenship — but only if elected.
Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s Secretary of State, has questioned why Oz had “the time and energy to vote in a  Turkish election” but not in New Jersey’s 2018 primary. The candidate, added Pompeo, must detail the “scope and depth” of his relationship to Turkey because they raise “national security concerns.” He hasn’t done so.
Unfortunately, probably because Trump is absurdly pro-Turkish, he endorsed Oz.
The Doctor and Mass Murder
In 2019, U.S. Senate Resolution 150 passed 100-0. It recognized the genocides of “Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians… and other Christians” committed by Ottoman and post-Ottoman Turkey from 1915-1923.
Queried about the Armenian Genocide, Oz’s campaign shot back with this disingenuous generalization: Our candidate “opposes genocide and the murder of innocent people in all forms… the evils of World War I should be commemorated.”
Of course, few people publicly favor genocide, murder, and evil. Oz’s evasive non-answer places him again on Turkey’s side and at odds with the U.S. Senate.
The true intensity of the Oz-Turkish love affair is known to few Pennsylvania voters.
The Oz—Turkish Love Affair
Oz has been a consultant and publicist for Turkish Airlines, 49% owned by the Turkish government.
He was once elected to the High Advisory Council of the Istanbul-based World Turkish Business Council (DTiK). The latter is affiliated with Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEiK), an arm of President Erdogan’s regime.
Oz spoke at DTiK’s 2019 conference in NY City. It was co-hosted by Gunay Evinch.
Ankara hired Evinch’s law firm, Saltzman & Evinch, to collect intel on certain of Turkey’s critics in America.
At a 2019 Turkish parade in Brooklyn, NY, Oz and Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul embraced each other. In 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department penalized Gul for Ankara’s unjust detention of Andrew Brunson, an American Christian pastor.
Oz offers lifestyle programming on the BiP communications platform. BiP is owned by the Turkish Wealth Fund, headed by Erdogan himself.
In 2022, Enes Kanter Freedom, the NBA basketball star, former Turkish citizen, and Erdogan critic, tweeted:
“People in Pennsylvania needs [sic] to understand that [Dr. Oz] is a Foreign Agent and he works for Dictator [Erdogan]. Ask yourself, why would a Turkish citizen, who lives in Jersey and works in New York City would want to be the Senator from Pennsylvania [emphases added].”
Nice Guys Finish Last
In May’s GOP primary, Oz beat David McCormick by just 951 votes out of 1.3 million.
Had McCormick used the points above (some of which I gave to his campaign and another GOP contender, Kathy Barnette) to hammer Oz, he would have won.
If John Fetterman lacks the stomach to expose the entire Oz —Turkish love affair, particularly Ankara’s support of ISIS, he may lose too — and will deserve it.
David Boyajian is an Armenian-American freelance journalist. His primary foreign policy focus is the Caucasus. Many of his articles are archived at www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/David_Boyajian.
For his previous essays at Gates of Vienna, see the David Boyajian Archives.